Ideas and How to Hold on to Them #7 #cong18


When ideas strike while you can’t write them down, use a memory system to peg them to memory hooks for later use.

4 Key Takeaways:

  1. There’s a tech-free solution to the danger of losing an idea.
  2. Using memory pegs helps remembering ideas as well as things you need to do.
  3. Creating your very own pegs makes them more efficient.
  4. Pegs can even trigger thoughts!

About Sabine McKenna:

Sabine McKenna is a digital educator and off-and-on blogger. She teaches various digital skills to mainly young people in Skerries, Co. Dublin as creative computing courses Skerries (aka cccSkerries) and also runs workshops for children and adults in libraries. This is her fourth CongRegation.

Contacting Sabine McKenna:

You can contact Sabine by email, follow her on Twitter and her website.

By Sabine McKenna

Sometimes, your best ideas come when you’re out and about, hiking, biking, running, walking or maybe on a train or driving. But what if you can’t just act on them immediately, or even write them down?
Here’s a hook you can peg those ideas to, no matter where you are! Or rather, twelve hooks…:
Sun. Shoe. Tree. Shore. Knife. Bricks. Raven. Plate. Wine. Hen. Heaven. Apostles.
You see, they rhyme with the numbers from one to eleven. (And then the twelve apostles – as seated for the Last Supper as painted by Leonardo da Vinci – make up the dozen for me.)
Let’s say you’re out on a walk, thinking of nothing in particular, when thoughts start coming. Your first idea is that you should start a new business selling candles. (Don’t ask, just go with it. Let’s just suppose.) Imagine a huge church candle with a giant sun on it. Really think of that candle. Where it is, how big it is, what shade of yellow the sun is. There, stored in your mind! On you walk.
When another idea comes up (you could sell candles to families before Christmas, with printed personalised messages on them), you peg it to the shoe. In your mind, you cram loads of candles into your walking boots, and you can clearly make out the writing “Happy Christmas, Eveline” on the top one.
The method can be used for reminders, too. You remember the company that sells the wicks you want to use hasn’t come back to you, and you really need follow up with them…. The palm tree in your neighbour’s front garden (be as specific as possible!) has lots of wicks hanging down, which makes it look really strange (strange is good, you’ll remember this more easily).
And so it continues! You add more images to your pegs…
4. You sit at the shore of an ink lake (you need to order printer ink).
5. A knife blade reflects the shine of 1000 candles burning (you want to find an image like that for use on your website).
6. A Christmas tree made of Lego bricks reminds you to sort those Christmas presents for your children.
7. The worm the raven is pulling out of your back garden’s lawn is yellow and glows mysteriously. It reminds you to pay the gas bill. This might not make sense to anyone else, but to you it does (the glow is like that of the gas fire in your living room.) The reminders are highly personal, nobody else needs to understand them!
8. Your ornamental plate which lives on your living-room mantelpiece is filled with lemons, like the ones you saw on your holidays in Spain last year. Time to book next year’s holiday, but you’ve been forgetting about the need to find the best dates with your husband and son. Not any more!
9. In a glass of wine, you see a hair swimming. Ugh. You need to book an appointment with the hairdresser. Why do you always think of these things when out walking?!
10. Two hens are fighting over a tasty worm (What, another worm? Ah well, you’re not going to analyse yourself.) One chicken is dressed in Kerry colours, the other in Mayo. You’ve been meaning to get that new hurley for your daughter!
11. The words “Mama Mia” are printed in huge letters across the sky. Heavenly! You’ll order the Mama Mia 2 movie for your best friend for Christmas. It’ll be great as a stand-by for your next girls’ get-together around New Year’s.
12. Speaking of which… apostles, 12, often reminds you of the need to arrange a get-together with your friends. (Pegs can trigger ideas, too!) So let’s not wait until after Christmas, let’s do something soon!
As you’re a careful person who knows that the mind can’t hold on to information unless you repeat it, you go through those pegs in your mind a few times after adding each new idea. (Candle with sun on it? Check. Boots with candles with writing inside? Check. Tree with wick leaves? Check. You’re on fire! And very happy that you took the time to memorise those twelve ideas you had.
So when you’re out and about and those ideas pop through your mind, you don’t let them get away.
You peg them to your memory hooks! Not the ones I am using – make up your own!
(See Tony Buzan’s books for more on memory techniques.)

Ideas – 10 a penny …. or are they worth their weight in gold ? #6 #cong18


What makes a good idea – something good happening in the world.

What makes a bad idea – something bad happening in the world.

Is World peace is good idea? Nor for those who’s livelihood depends on the business of war.

The idea of home schooling your children may be great until some new realities set in in its delivery.

The idea of an intervention free labour may disappear in the reality of the first contraction and a scream for an epidural!

The idea of writing a great book may disappear when faced with the reality of actually doing the writing ..

Spreading ‘great ideas’ is one thing … the reality may be entirely different. Are we looking for ideas to solve the worlds biggest challenges or for ideas to solve the problems closer to home – like how to get a good night’s sleep!

Speaking of location, who says an idea is limited by the walls of your skull?

Just because we cannot see light waves or sound waves does not mean these do not exist. We know they do, we believe they do, we have evidence they do. There was light and sound long before we had the ‘scientific proof’

4 Key Takeaways:

  1. Where do our ideas come from and where do they go if we don’t act on them? Perhaps they drift in the universe until they find fertile ground in someone’s curious thinking and fearless self expression. … all those ideas that just pop into our heads … when we least expect .. when we’re idle, when we are dwelling in a problem .. when we are taking a shower … when someone says something … when we are dropping off to sleep … when the the brain antennae is already tuning in to make a connection? Does collaborative human intelligence already have the answer to all our challenges?
  2. The more connections, the more like minded people, the more we share our ideas, the more chance the good ones and the great ones have of becoming more than idea but actually real in the world … like a car .. or an aeroplane … or an electric light bulb … or the internet … or the latest fashion … or a book … or a musical score … or a an architectural wonder … or a popular movement … or a political party
  3. Most challenges are we facing today require urgent solutions. Personal challenges require personal solutions. Societal challenges need societal solutions. Global challenges need global solutions. When we share ideas on a global platform, this allows collaborative effort and discovery, realising the ideas we need today are not the ideas we needed yesterday.
  4. Are we looking for ideas to serve ourselves or ideas to serve the greater good. That is where the generosity is required – be grateful that ‘your’ idea is alive in the world and people are benefiting.

About Eileen Forrestal:

Having recently retired from the position of Consultant Anaesthetist, after a 32 year career as a Medical Doctor, Eileen is now engaged full time in the business at Get Up and Go Publications Ltd, producing a range of inspirational and motivational diaries, journals and events, for adults and teens. The diaries embody a philosophy and wisdom – Forgive the past – Live the present – Create the future, with an intention to empower educate, inspire and encourage people to be aware of their choices, and to be responsible for their own health, self expression, wellbeing, and happiness.

Eileen believes the accelerating rate of change in the world today is overwhelming the capacity of many people to ‘keep up’. “Mental heath and wellbeing issues of stress and burnout are becoming increasingly prevalent. Our Get Up and Go diaries use words and ideas to positively impact the lives of many people, providing a source of timeless wisdom from a ‘pre-information age’ to guide us through the challenges of modern life and help shine a light in the darkness of despair”.

Eileen suffered with a ‘stammer’ for most of her young life and ‘gave up’ on her voice at 13, frustrated by her inability to ‘be understood’ and decided to retire from ‘public communication’ preferring the safety of silence and having ‘nothing important to say’. She chose the specialty of Anaesthesia for 20 years, remaining hidden and silent. That changed in 2001 when she discovered the negative impact this decision had on her life and wellbeing. Since then she has been a strong advocate of courageous self expression, travel, education, self-discovery through personal development and stepping beyond your comfort zone. “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek”. In 2014, Eileen retired from her medical career believing she could serve her purpose better by using her voice and words than her hands and drugs. After a career spent ‘putting people to sleep’ she is now in the business of ‘waking people up’ to all the possibilities of being alive, right here, right now! Having overcome he fear of public speaking she has since spoken on Radio, TV, schools and stages around the world and has not looked back.

The Get Up and Go Events bring together ordinary people living extraordinary lives, courageous individuals from many walks of life, who have stepped outside their own ‘comfort zone’ to share their experience of living life ‘with passion and purpose’ and are now inspiring their audience to do the same.

Eileen lives in Sligo.

Contacting Eileen Forrestal:

You can contact Eileen by email, follow her on Twitter and Facebook  or connect with her on LinkedIn.

By Eileen Forrestal

An idea is it is just an idea, existing in human thought, inside a human head,  until it becomes a real in the world. Then it becomes something that exits. It must first come out of your mouth …

Ideas come from a space of enquiry – of not knowing – and only when we dwell in the question and listen for ‘the answer’. Ideas need to form, germinate, gestate, then be formulated or transformed into thoughts and words. Thinking about them is relatively safe. It is in the uttering of them that we are most tested. This is where our thoughts and our fears get in the way of our ideas coming to life in the world.  Speaking them is their access to the outside world. That is where they risk being ‘out there’, open to criticism or ridicule or debate. Some ideas we just find impossible to express or explain adequately, others once spoken are instantly connected with and understood.

Today we need ideas more than ever …. there is an urgent need to find solutions to the escalating problems generated by an exponentially expanding economy … the problem solution cycle – every solution becoming the next problem …

We are living in an epistem called ‘progress’ – that tomorrow will be better than today – but the problems caused by ‘progress’ may overwhelm us before our human consciousness elevates sufficiently to permit collaboration over competition. While we  are still in personal survival / competitive mode  – we are not contributing and collaborating in generating big ideas that will contribute  to the betterment of all.

The quest for ideas in the world today is like the American gold rush – “there is more gold to be mined from the minds of men than ever existed in the earth”.  What the world is looking for now are bright ideas for rapid solutions to the problems challenging us globally. The need for new ideas will never be exhausted.

Everything that exists in the world today began as an idea – that became a solution to a problem –  a unique idea that fell on fertile ground, that inspired a team effort, to explore, develop and work on to bring to fruition.

But new ideas are not always welcome. Great ideas can be quashed by the smallest of doubts and terrible ideas brought to fruition  fuelled by the greatest of confidence. Timing, confidence and persistence is everything. Who decides what’s a good or bad idea – from who’s perspective do we judge it?

As long as an idea resides in our own head, its safe there, but nothing much will come of it.  Intention is critical. Ideas must be acted on in order to materialise. The first action is to be spoken and shared. We must speak it out – now we are in dangerous territory! This is where our idea will live or die.  If we don’t speak it … what are we going to do with it…? Nothing? If we do speak it, what are ‘they’ going to do with it, steal it, laugh at it, judge it, criticise it?  “that’s a stupid idea” ”that’s crazy thinking” “that will never work”  “we tried that before”, and it retreats back to the safety of the herd,  the old thoughts – the world of agreement – the silence.  Pity!

What if it’s a really good idea ? Where else can you share it? Who else is interested in looking for ideas for finding a solution to the problem you are experiencing – it can’t only be you with the problem but it may only be you with the idea ….  Or the courage to express it! “Little ideas that tickle and nag and refuse to go away should never be ignored, for in themlie the seeds of destiny.Now there is an opportunity for exploration, for collaboration, for discovery, for creativity, for the possibility of that idea being realised.

To survive the idea must land in an open field, on the ‘fertile soil’, of another’s generous listening, where it can germinate and grow and become an ‘idea worth spreading’! The internet has provided a vast platform to share and distribute ideas – and we need this collaboration to deal with the magnitude of the worlds problems which escalate commensurate with ‘progress’. When we fear others ‘stealing our ideas’ or criticising them or belittling them   – we lose huge opportunities to create the necessary ‘mastermind’ that can bring that idea to life.

Human evolution to date has been slow and painstaking as it took time to bring intelligent ideas to reality. Human beings are subject to ‘doubt’ .That is no longer the case. Artificial Intelligence does not doubt itself, nor question itself, nor show reluctance or fear that its ideas is ‘stupid’ or ‘not good  enough’ or ‘silly’ or ‘bad’ or ‘mad’. A machine will not have to retreat from failure, curl up with a sense of hurt and rejection. It would not have taken AI as long as Edison to develop the working lightbub – 10,000 attempts could now happen at the speed of light!

So, It’s really not about the ‘merit’ of the idea. It’s whether the idea is perceived to have value or not. And the originator of the idea is the most critical ‘evaluator’ in terms of the idea being realized.

While the earth’s resources may be limited, there is no limit to human ingenuity – the creativity and imagination of the human mind. More gold has been mined from the minds of men than has ever been mined from the earth. How deep is the mind’s mine and is our natural intelligence reliable to mine it – or will artificial intelligence get the better of us? The future of mankind is as dependent as ever on  ideas to find solutions to the problems of our own making.

So, whatever about developing the idea – AI is unlikely to come up with new ideas

So ideas still need to be expressed, nurtured, shared. The source of ideas will still be the human mind. And these ‘secrets’ can only be given up willingly, voluntarily. We cannot extract ideas from the human mind – we can only offer them, share them and listen for them, hear them, if they are uttered. Ideas only thrive in speaking and listening.

Human being will still need to courage to express and share and discuss their ideas and risk the usual cynicism when something new is being created.

So put your thinking caps on.

What ideas are you ‘holding on to’ … for fear someone will run away with them?

What idea do you have that you think is good but are afraid to express for fear of criticism?

What idea do you have that you feel is no good, simply because someone ridiculed an idea you had in the past?

What ideas do you have that you are burning to share and you think no one is listening?

What ideas did you have that’ died’ in you because you gave up because you felt no one was listening?

What idea is still burning in your brain that refuses to leave you alone?

Risk it – share it – discover what happens when you let it have a life outside your own head.

Reading for Ideas #5 #cong18


Ideas are vital, and books are still a great way to access them.

4 Key Takeaways:

  1. We still need offline, non-screen time to properly consider and digest ideas
  2. Walking, swimming and cycling, among other forms of exercise are all vital to be able to look at things from different perspectives
  3. Books remain relevant source of idea, and reading an important method of getting these ideas
  4. Include at least one non paid element in your working day, to remain open to inspiration and different ways of doing things

About Simon Cocking:

@Irish_TechNews Senior editor|Winner best 2014 Science Tech site | 2015 Irish Blog Awards, Silver Award best Tech Blog #writer#photographer New book ‘How to Crack Websummit 2015| upcoming publication on Werner Herzog & Fitzcarraldo | 1st inductee in Irish Ultimate Frisbee Hall of Fame.

Contacting Simon Cocking:

You can contact Simon on Twitter (personal), and also read his thoughts in his blog.  You can also find Simon on Irish Tech News and Tweakyourbiz.

This is a great title, and idea. We have spent a lot of time over the previous CongRegation pieces writing around the idea of remote working, the future of work, and where it is all going to go. Personally over the last four years it has been a great, and rapid, journey. From aspiring to work remotely, to becoming in demand globally and being in a position to redirect my energies towards those projects that really interested me, and to just double down on these ones without having to take on as many (any hopefully) of the more prosaic, pay the rent, gigs.

In this context I have kept one loss leader activity going, even though it directly brings me in zero revenue. I guess it is important for us all to have some things that we do for fun, passion and interest rather than for the financial return it brings us. For me it is reviewing books. As my profile and ‘fame’ (LOL, within a very specific niche) has grown it is no longer necessary for me to even approach publishers to review their books, they just send them to me now. This is both my joy and bane now – as always be careful what you wish for. My own 11 year old daughter was able to quickly identify that they joy of getting packages in the post might dwindle quickly when you know they are going to be books about business, tech, innovation and such like. And yet, and yet, yes, it is still a joy, often, to get these newly published offerings. Because it is a potpourri of ideas. Some good, some bad, some boring, some derivative, some inspiration, some turgid and badly written. But even so, it is a regular influx of ideas.

We may have taken ourselves partially off the grid, away from the immediate hustle and bustle. It is of course only partially, you still having good and annoying neighbours, local life is still around you. BUT these regularly packages, brought almost Hedwig like, by carrier pigeon, courier or whatever magic it takes to bring them to us, keep a steady flow of ideas coming to our door. This is great, exciting, and important, to keep us open to a world that is rapidly changing. So many amazing things are taking place, and with the ability to share knowledge some much faster than it used to be we are living in exhilarating times. This flow, flood even, of ideas, is also our life blood to future proof our own careers, and our living opportunities. Events like CongrRegation themselves are also great because they expose us to so many different people, thinking and working on so many different things. The unconference approach ensures it is a level playing field and the smart way to get the most value is to listen and absorb what is being said around you. To hear, feel and consider the fantastic flow of ideas passing around and through you.

Some of the most relevant books for this context and conversation include Pivot by Jenny Blake, which was especially relevant as she spoke about how to keep future proofing your career in a fast changing world. Similarly Blockchain Revolution by the father and son team of Don and Alex Tapscott, was a great high level exposition of the potential use cases that opened up a whole new career for me personally. More recently Working in the Gig Economyhas been another smart source of thought provoking ideas too. Books remain a relevant way to take some downtime, off-line, screen free time for yourself and to keep up to date with the latest ideas too. See all of our latest book reviews here.

An Afterlife for Ideas #4 #cong18


Startups fail at a rate of over 80% and leave behind them an emotion train wreck of broken dreams.  After the dust has settled is there a potential afterlife for all the intellectual capital that could be deployed in new hands and marketplaces?

4 Key Takeaways:

  1. Even failed startups generate solid intellectual capital
  2. There is gold in the time and energy invested
  3. A wreckers yard for startup ideas
  4. Founders could still recoup some of their investment

About Eoin Kennedy:

Eoin Kennedy is the founder of, startup entrepreneur and a freelance communications consultant living in the west of Ireland.

Contacting Eoin Kennedy:

You can follow Eoin on Twitter or connect with him on LinkedIn.

An Afterlife for Ideas.

A gallop through failed startup ideas and a chance of an afterlife for failed ideas.

I began my start up journey in 2011 when I hooked up with a Longford based developer who had a very similar idea to what I was trying to build (without the technical skills) in a Dublin based PR company.

We joined forces and in a burst of enthusiasm built the technology which effectively paid people per click for promotional content they shared through their social networks – similar to a social version of google adwords.  We got funding, paying customers and entry into the really well organized iGap programme, but realized after a couple of months of lack of traction that we did not have what they called ‘Product Market Fit’ nor the funds to bulldoze the idea through or wait it out (it did not help during ones of these sessions when Sean Ellis of Dropbox commented that double side markets don’t work – thats what we built).  Interestingly this idea is something that could possibly work now with the coming of age of the influencer community and offer greater transparency.  As per lots of start up we pivoted and became a crowd funding platform for schools, community and sports groups (digital sponsorship card and more).  This grew slowly but had a few active (and profitable users) but we could not find enough of these people and community groups by their part time nature take a long time to make decisions and activate campaigns.  Despite great promise, the rewards were too little and living on air does not sustain a family (I had moved from Dublin, left a well paid PR job and moved to a remote location outside Cong in Mayo on the allure of start up millions!).

During the two of these we also build a karma based online system for people who refer each other business or specifically recordable web traffic.

After brief recharge I scratched old itch of an idea that became Congregation, did lots of training and lecturing, some consultancy work, minor web development, event management and an myriad of other roles that has become the norm for living remotely.

However, ideas kept coming and the start up bug never really left my system.  After a about a 6 month break I started a project with other two entrepreneurs to try gamify the crisis management process – ran lots of crisis workshops, attended gaming conferences and interviewed many potential clients (the key learning from the first trip down start lane was you can never do enough market validation before committing to a technology build).  Everyone loved the idea but it was also clear people would pay any money to get out a crisis but very little to avoid it happening in the first place or to even to prepare for one.  I then attend a pre-incubation course to evaluate the potential for a free lance web site for retired people – code named Powered by Grey.  The idea was deemed worthy and in the tricky world of double sided markets has lots of support on the supply side (finance, social, legacy for people who have retired) but struggled to prove the case with paying customers who would contract people with 40 plus years experience among fear of longevity and possible hidden prejudice.  This was parked and I spent a stint working as global media liaison for the Dublin Web Summit and working with Crème Global on establishing the Predict Conference before commuting to Dublin every week to lecture in Marketing for the Dublin Business School.

Again, ideas and specifically problems that I felt technology and automation could solve never left me and after a year lecturing I focused on another idea to automate time recording.  With the support of the New Frontiers programme and the Bank of Ireland Start Lab Galway this morphed from intangible concept to a working prototype that received a really positive customer reaction but I struggled to get the funding and attract the team to build it.  A new house build and looming mortgage made me put a dust cover over that idea to travel to Limerick to work with the ICBE on some fascinating projects and deliver a version of CongRegation for the manufacturing sector called the Energy Symposium.

So why this speed trip through the last 8 years of my life. It’s not to demonstrate the addictive nature of ideas but rather to question what happens with all these ideas after the plug has been pulled on them.

The ideas I worked on failed for various reasons (this submission was originally supposed to be on why ideas fail) from the easy to narrate ones of cash, technical capability, team, product market fit through to harder to accept reasons like bad timing (too early for the market) to the more difficult to acknowledge personal ones like bravery, fear, energy levels and eroding of personal relationship on teams.  The latter can be there all the time but is the final nail in the coffin when things are not going well.

This post and my personal reflection is that each of these ideas could and will probably happen with someone else at another time in another place.  Although it never feels like it when they end in failure, they all generated a lot of intellectual capital to possibly very some very sellable technology.

With start rate averaging a conservative failure rate of 80% this is a staggering amount of business plans, research, intellectual property, technology, coal face knowhow to customers to completely write off and leave to decay on aging hard disk drives.

I know that some of the core technology I worked is valuable (it cost enough to build).  The months of research invaluable and business, marketing plans and collateral could be astonishingly time saving and beneficial to someone in another marketplace that could benefit from all the hard work rather than recreate the wheel. Even urls, social media presence and the online communities that evolve around startups were painstakingly built could be repurposed.

As I look through my folders I see top level ideas (valuable as based on a lifetime of experience) to out of the box ‘just need cash’ or an eager team to deliver ones.  The volume of good quality thinking (of course merged with hyperinflated unrealistic sales projections) still surprises me as I browse through it but reflects the long hours and weeks spent interviewing customers to primary and secondary research to generating code.  I frequently find myself thinking of new uses, improvements or openings for past project but more often I look in dismay, not so much of the ‘Field of Broken Dreams’, but that rather that its just sitting there and it feels wasteful.

This crystalised with a conversation with serial entrepreneur Alan Dowlingat the side of football pitch about building a market place for failed startups and ideas.  An intellectual property scrap yard (we did not get to the point of finding nice euphemisms) where founders could post what they believe is of value from their start ups onto an open online searchable market.  Building on the scrap yard analogy, my last car was worth €150 despite paying many thousands for it a few years previous, but the parts were valuable and broken into bits it was worth multiples of what I got paid.  Many founders just want to see their vision implemented, some need cash and some just hate waste.  I fall into all three.

Ideas don’t always fail because they were bad ideas and sometimes in the hands of another, in a different market at a difference time with a different lens can become something great.

There is precedence here.  Some focus on the stories behind why startup fail, examples being AutosyandFailory.

Some focus on selling the ideas.  Flippa is a good example of ideas selling where you can bid for ideas.  In addition there is a host of others that crowdsource of ideaswith teams that will build the prototype and offer a percentage of the returns for those who originated the idea.

Could a blend of both of these approaches work in Ireland where there was good sharing of the lessons learn and an honest appraisal of the potential of the failed ideas that people could bid for.

Failure can feel like hell but maybe we can offer ideas an after life.

I would love to debate this at CongRegation this year and see if anyone is up for a challenge.

‘Beware Your Lizard-Brain’ #3 #cong18


Idea #1 is that ideas are utterly worthless, we all have them, hundreds per day, majority lead to nothing. An idea only carries some value when coupled with action! Problem however is that so so many of us are terrified of action……!

4 Key Takeaways:

  1. Ideas are worthless
  2. For ideas to become actual IDEAS requires some form of action
  3. For ideas to become reality requires lots of action
  4. Many of us are terrified of action!

About Paddy Delaney:

Paddy, (last year a father of 2, this year a father of 3!) has recently left a perfectly well-paid and enjoyable job of 13 years working for ‘the person’, in order to follow a passion; to change how financial planning and service is done in Ireland.
Through his new company he has built the tools to serve people who seek help in making properly informed decisions with regards their finances, to avoid mistakes, which in turn will help them live the life that they want.
He works with a small number of clients, and develops life-long, multi-generational relationships based on mutual respect and loyalty. And he loves it! Like may of us he has lots of ideas, and is keen to dispell the myth that ideas alone are a worthwhile thing!

Contacting Paddy Delaney:

You can follow Paddy on Twitter or sign up for his blog/podcast.

By Paddy Delaney:

You have launched that business, ran that 5k, achieved that promotion, earned that income, lost that weight, painted that wall, made that speech, bought that house, found that soul-mate, or achieved or made progress on whatever your big outcome was. The fact that we apparently each have in the region of 30,000 thoughts per day and that for many of us approximately 70% of these are negative, makes it a minor miracle that we manage to do anything productive at all!

Ideas are frequent and regular, and more often than not we subconsciously try to sabotage ourselves with negative thought and internal dialogue that crushes these little sparkling ideas before they even get a chance to fly. Think about it, how many ideas have you had in the past week that, due to your own internal dialogue, never got to fly!?

Our lizard-brain (limbic cortex), that tiny part of our brains at the top of the spinal cord controls fight, flight, fear, freezing-up and fornication. It is said to be the most primitive part of our brains and the part that drives our most basic of instincts. It was designed to keep us alive when we were in danger of getting eaten 2million years ago as we pottered about in caves. Our environments have changed however we still carry the same thought-processes.

But you don’t live in a cave, you have achieved your goal or made progress on your outcome, so how did that happen? Well you may have been washing the dishes, driving your car, reading a book, on the verge of sleep, talking to someone, watching ‘Better Call Saul’ or doing any of a thousand other things when you were struck with a thought about something (we have 30,000 of them a day remember!). Your thought would have led to an idea about a desirable future state. Immediately and nigh-on uncontrollably your idea would then have been set-upon with great ferocity by your own negative and/or limiting internal dialogue. We all have that dialogue to one degree or another. That is our lizard-brain trying to strangle our idea, to convince us that the worst will happen, that it’ll be too hard, that we’re not good enough, that someone else will do it better, that we won’t have enough time, that now is not the right time!

However you managed to ignore that lizard-brain thinking, and you kept the idea alive, you let it fly. That’s the first hurdle to jump. You would then have had to keep chewing on that idea, again overcoming fear, laziness and doubt, and remained focused on the great outcome you are aiming to achieve! But an idea alone will not make the outcome happen. For an idea to really be of value it gives rise to action. Those actions don’t have to be huge or public, action which turns that idea into something bigger is simple as putting pen to paper, taking those first steps, talking to someone, practicing those first words, beginning your research, save that €100 or say no to that extra donut.

The lizard-brain will love you not to take those first steps. Your lizard-brain loves when you don’t pursue that idea. Ideas need action to become something tangible, don’t let the lizard-brain strangle them.

Being contrary #2 #cong18


Ideas, for me, come from being contrary – my natural reaction to any point of view, however convincing or evidence-based, is to look for the contrary points of view and wonder what they might bring. A lifetime habit, this contradiction is augmented by completion, combination and change. Completion is to challenge the completeness of any analysis presented to me – what else should be in it? Combination is wondering what would happen if one factor was combined with another. Change is when one variable is modified to see what might be. Together with maintaining a sustained open-mindedness and never being in a hurry to conclude, such habits have served me well in a creative career. This presentation would include examples drawn from inventing educational designs over four decades and invite participants to take my own advice, be contrary, and critique the analysis presented itself.

4 Key Takeaways:

  1. Be contrary
  2. Challenge whether an analysis is complete
  3. Make combinations of factors
  4. Change variables

About Richard Millwood:

Dr Richard Millwood is Visiting Research Fellow in the School of Computer Science & Statistics, Trinity College Dublin, advising PhD students in the context of the Centre for Research in Information Techology in Education. He gained a BSc in Mathematics & Physics at King’s College London in 1976 and became a school teacher. From 1980 to 1990 he led the software development of educational simulations in the Computers in the Curriculum Project at Chelsea College London. He then worked with Professor Stephen Heppell to create Ultralab, the learning technology research centre at Anglia Polytechnic University, acting as head from 2005 to 2007. He then researched innovation in online higher education in the Institute for Educational Cybernetics at the University of Bolton until 2013, gaining a PhD by Practice ‘The Design of Learner-centred, Technology-enhanced Education’. Current research interests include learning programming and computational thinking..

Contacting Richard Millwood:

You can follow Richard on Twitter, see Richards work on his blog, profile site and works site.  You can also email Richard.

Being contrary – By Richard Millwood.

Coming soon..check out the synopsis.

The power of one learning per day #1 #cong18


I captured on new idea or one new insight every single day this year
I did it as a challenge for my personal development.
Writing it down forces deeper learning and likely implementation
It was a tweet style diary of innovative thought
My personal bet with you, it will be in the top ten most impactful things you do in your life and its easy!

4 Key Takeaways:

  1. Take a note of the key learnings you have each day
  2. It will embed deeper learning
  3. It will surprise and delight you
  4. It will make you a more empathic human person

About Alan Costello:

Alan is an innovative and strategic leader, working in early stage venture capital with tech startup companies @NDRC.

He is opinionated, but nice about it.

Contacting Alan Costello:

You can follow Alan on Twitter, connect with him on LinkedIn reach him by email.

The power of one learning per day – By Alan Costello.

I love learning about new people, new ideas, new insights – I get a buzz from it – it aids my life and makes me feel like I’m living my own best life.  I dare you to argue with that concept.

On Jan 1 2018 – I decided to capture in writing one thing I learned or observed every single day.  Holidays and weekends, work thoughts and life thoughts.  I wouldnt research or fact check them – they were my observations and learnings that day – I’m not guaranteeing accuracy.  I will try to hat-tip the person or occasion who engendered that learning.  If I had more than one idea (shocker), I would choose.  Write them down – Ray Dalio style.

Challenges – would I learn something new every day – risky for a guy on the cusp of a mid life crisis.  Would I have the discipline – one perception of an ideas or big picture guy like I perceive myself to be, is that they are not an executor or finisher in projects.  Note – I’m not a finisher – I‘m writing this on the 23rd May so I could fail, but I already know that this is one of the most high value and impactful projects in my life.  Read on!

This blog is not an account of the >100 observations so far – it is about the process of thinking about ideas and evaluation of them and how they impact or enrich your life.  There are however a few extracts, like:


Jan 5th – watching the Gulf cup soccer final in Oman struck me that sport is the global offering.  People react in the same way, sponsors utilise it in the same way globally, one universal language exists through sport more than other aspects of culture, language or business.

It became like a diary, a record of activity covering predominantly work but also life

It captured locations where I was

It captured zeitgeist and my own headspace

It told me what I found interesting in life

I fell into a nice pattern of not forcing it to fit some cool hipster lifestyle – thats what I use Twitter for.  Instead, I fell into a pattern of learn, capture, enrich.  It became something I looked forward to completing each day.

It is not all ideas – although many are.  It also captures observations and insights – my own and I dont claim them for greatness, but important that they were novel or impactful to me each day.

How – I captured the ideas in a calendar format in Google sheets and then each month transferred to a Google Word document so I could expand or remind myself of the context as to where the idea came from.  It formed the habit of looking for one insight a day – if it didnt pop in naturally, I thought each evening – what one new thing did I learn today.  It was a pleasure to recount something and affirm that I was still winning the challenge.

There is a learning for today, until I wrote these words, I didnt know I had challenged myself.

I ask myself, for each learning/idea/insight – how impactful is that?  What will I implement in my future that I have gleaned from that piece of knowledge?  I know I wont implement 100% – any or a target would be better than not doing it, right?

Example – Feb 1st – Sometimes its ok to back away from a fight that is not worth winning.  Context is key.  (I feel I need to explain – I would have won that argument, it would have been a short term win, but not a strategic one.  New thought, why did I feel I needed to explain backing away from a fight?)

What did it do?

It reminded me to always learn, to capture learning so as to embed it

Was it a chore – not really, but slight challenge to capture the data in a way that lasted through time (end of the month tidy up!)

Logistics – excel, google doc.  What will holiday time be like (actually the more free my headspace, the more thoughts/ideas/learnings I had – need to think about that obvious conclusion).

Are there different formats?

Should I write, should I draw, should I matrix any feelings/emotions around that?  I havent tried this yet, but will probably try some experiments there.  Emotions attached to learnings seems like it would 10x the impact.  But bias the learning too?

What outcomes am I expecting – personal development.  The chapter titles of a book?

Learn about myself – I have rarely strategically captured my thoughts/thinking or principles.  Its about time!

Was one per day too restrictive – will I try an experiment to capture 2 or 3 per day and test if a quality bar emerges/law of diminishing returns?

Can I capture data and organise it by topic? – probably more meaningful than calendar capture, but will it merge (should it merge) concepts together?

What moods/events changed/amended my insights etc – funerals, rest-time etc

Why is this innovative – what is innovation


March 3rd – in order to change, you need data.  Management have ERP/MIS systems, what about consumer?  Fitbit provides data that enables and pushes consumer level change.  The tech capability is coming to drive mass consumer behaviour change

Why would I recommend this to you – (would I stop in 2019?)

Thats a big enough question – more about that leading on to a never ending task in 2019 and beyond.  Maybe I will deliver it publically through Twitter to create discussion.  I need to see long term benefit – I think I have that, but I have to measure my response to this question and see if I commit (finisher!)

In essence, I would absolutely recommend this to you, to at least challenge and astonish yourself, and learn and embed the learnings you already have every day.


9th May – looking at a clients personal and professional learning log for their learning – the reflection they have and the impact it has had has enormous impact. 

Oh wait, thats what this is……

Ideas may be cheap, or two a penny, but learning and implementing actions from them – thats value beyond a price.

What is the most impactful one thing that you learned today?